Friday, September 09, 2011
[Rethinking 4e -- Freeform D&D] Monster Manual 3 on a Business Card
One of the most frequent assertions you will read throughout my "Rethinking 4e -- Freeform D&D" columns is that levels don't matter. The reason that this is true is that the game is designed to have the same level of risk for the characters no matter the level they have attained. A 1st level character fighting level appropriate characters is just as likely to perish as a 30th level character fighting against foes of his or her level.
The game features a static risk profile, meaning that characters must always have some level of concern for their survival. This is partially mitigated by the fact that the characters are fairly durable at all levels, but the level of danger always remains. This is a good thing. It also means that once you understand the underlying intentions of the game, and the math, it is very easy to run a 4e game without having characters actually gain levels beyond a certain point.
I will be writing a lot about this in the weeks to come and that writing will be presenting some of the underlying assumptions of the "power level" of characters and monsters. Character power levels will be based on the recent Essentials products. I am choosing them because while they are not "optimized" to the point of maxing out every possible point of damage from the system, they provide a nice base line for mechanical assumptions. I will also be using the monster building information from the Monster Manual 3 update -- which you can read on page 7 of this document. Even better, you can check out the Blog of Holding website where the author has taken all of the information in the MM3 update and condensed it into information that can fit on one side of a business card.
That's right, you can build any monster you want -- for any level of foe- with nothing more than 8 lines of text. That's pretty awesome, and that's how simple 4e is. The only thing that the card lacks is how much damage an ongoing effect should do -- that's 5 hit points per tier of creature by the way -- and what special effects can be added to a given power. That doesn't really matter though, because if you want a power to "daze" or "stun" or "push" an opponent you just have the attack do that (and possibly reduce the damage 25% to represent that effect).